If lentils haven’t been in your regular meal rotation, this tasty French lentil salad will convince you otherwise.
Simple to make. Super flavorful. Light and yet satisfying.
What are French lentils?
French lentils are a cute little legume with a beautiful slate color.
What is the difference between French Lentils and regular lentils?
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French lentils are darker in color, smaller in size, and less starchy than regular lentils. The texture of French lentils is less mushy and they keep their pretty round shape after cooking – which makes them a perfect addition to healthy salads like this one.
The slightly nutty and peppery flavor of French lentils also sets them apart from other types of lentils.
Where to buy French lentils
If you want some French lentils with superior flavor, try Puy lentils. Puy lentils are French lentils that have been grown in the Puy region of central France. Because they are grown in rich volcanic soil, they have the most amazingly rich flavor. I definitely prefer Puy lentils in this recipe, but any French lentils will work.
How to cook French lentils
One of my favorite things about lentils is that, unlike other legumes, they don’t need to be soaked before cooking and they cook quickly.
To make lentils:
1. Sort through the lentils removing any rocks, dirt or other debris.
2. Place in a colander or a mesh strainer and rinse well.
3. Transfer them to a saucepan or pot, add hot water or broth (about 2 cups for 1/3 cup of lentils), and bring to a boil.
4. Reduce heat and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes. (Some recipes will tell you that lentils cook in less time, but the longer cooking times make them easier to digest.)
For extra flavor, you can add a bay leaf, a sprig of thyme, onion, and/or garlic to the cooking water or broth.
Lentils are a great pantry staple since they are quick and easy to cook, really good for you, and make a great base for a number of delicious dishes. Lentils are delicious in soups, they go great with these Roasted Carrots and Parsnips, and they’re perfect alongside this Avocado Tomato Salad.
One of my very favorite ways to eat French Lentils is to drizzle this Creamy Italian Dressing over them as soon as they are done cooking. The dressing absorbs into the warm lentils and makes them taste amazing!
Lentils are loaded with nutritious fiber and are a great help for healthy weight loss. They are also a good source of protein, iron, and omega-3s. And just one cup of cooked lentils provides 90% of your daily needs for folate – a nutrient that can reduce your risk of depression, heart disease, cancer, and dementia.
French Lentil Salad
Yield 2 sides or 1 main dish
A simple, yet elegant, main dish salad.
- 1 cup well drained, cooked French lentils, scant (You can use canned lentils or cook your own using the recipe in the post.)
- 1 ½ teaspoons granulated onion
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- Pinch salt
- 1 tablespoon chopped English walnuts
- 1 ½ cups, lightly packed, fresh mixed salad greens
- 1 small carrot - juliennne
- 1 baby cucumber - juliennne
- 1 shallot, sliced thin
- 1 small tomato, diced
- ½ recipe Creamy Basil Dressing (about a generous ½ cup) or Simple Basil Dressing (below)
- Mix granulated onion, oregano, and pinch of salt into cooked and drained lentils.
- Chop walnuts. Set aside.
- Prepare vegetables.
- Place greens on a plate. Top with carrots, cucumber, shallot, tomato, and then lentils. Drizzle dressing over all and sprinkle walnuts on top.
If your lentils are already seasoned, you can skip the added granulated onion, oregano, and salt.
This recipe makes one main dish salad or two side dish salads, but it can be easily doubled, tripled, etc. to serve more people.
Make ahead tip:
To make this salad ahead of time, prepare lentils, dressing, walnuts, and all vegetables except tomatoes. Store separately in airtight containers in refrigerator until ready to serve. Just before serving, dice tomatoes and assemble salad.
Simple Fresh Basil Dressing
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
- 2 - 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- ½ teaspoon salt, scant
Whisk together all ingredients.